Creative Dundee

Spotlight: Hilary Grant

The sub-zero temperatures in Dundee last week have me dreaming of cosy scarfs and mittens so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to shine a light on Dundee star, Hilary Grant with a spotlight article.

Hilary graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2007 and since then has made a name for herself as a textile designer, interning with designer Claire Tough, developing concepts for Lost Values and even creating embroidery designs for Alexander McQueen. Creative Dundee had a chin-wag with Hilary to get the low-down on her influences and inspirations as well as finding out why Dundee is a good place to get creative.

Where do you work from in Dundee?

I work in a home studio/workshop.

Who or what are your current influences?

A lot of my inspiration comes from really traditional fairisle knitting techniques and also a lot of menswear too. Paul Smith. I really like Margaret Howell, simple clothing e.g. A.P.C. and I get a lot of inspiration from street style photography like in the Sartorialist. I wouldn’t say these kinds of sources inspire me directly in terms of pattern design, but things like colour proportion and styling are key.

Which artists/creative do you most admire?

I admire lot of people. My friends, who are all out there in their first few years of their creative businesses and seeing how they all progress is really inspiring. My favourite designers for the last few years are Mina Perhoenen, Cooperative Designs, Marc Monzo, Clare Waight Keller, Masako Ban. I also love Alexander Wang as his approach is so understated and simple. This quote from him really sticks with me  “Fashion should be something that should be understood, yet still be exciting. It’s art and commerce.” I like that idea.

You studied at Duncan of Jordanstone, what kind of support was available to you whilst you were a student?

There was a lot out there but it was very much down to you if you wanted to learn more and develop techniques beyond the basics. I guess that’s the same for everyone. Though the teaching was great, there is only so much the tutors and technicians can do for one person. It’s down to you to learn how educate yourself and get what you want from art school and how to develop your design progress beyond what’s prescribed.

What kind of support has been available to you since setting up on your own?

I got some financial help from Dundee City Council and Creative Scotland with the Dundee Craftmakers’ Award last year. That was a big boost. And also the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust  (PSYBT) who have really helped me develop the business side of everything, with my accounts and writing up contracts. If anyone is interested in starting up a business I’d make PSYBT and Cultural Enterprise your first ports of call.

What has been your career highlight so far?

Lots of different little things. But I guess doing a tradeshow last year felt like a turning point between hobby business and real business.

What is your favourite Dundee landmark?

The McManus Galleries.

Where are your favourite places to hang out in Dundee?

TLC on Perth Road is my first stop if I’m needing to get out for fresh air and for a coffee break. It’s a good place to switch off.

What do you think about the creative scene in Dundee?

It’s such a great community and really supportive. Dundee’s a great place to start up a business.

What effect do you think the V&A will have on the city? How will this change the scene in Dundee?

I’m sure it’ll change Dundee in so many ways for the better I’m not sure where to start!

What’s next for Hilary Grant?

Just now I’m working on next winter’s collection. I’ll be starting to work more seasonally now as I’m going to be working with a manufacturer in the Borders so the way I run my business is changing too.

Any top tips for creatives?

Have some time off for once! You can’t expect to be switched on all the time if you never switch off.

View Hilary’ s website and online shop at: or follow her on twitter @Hilary_Grant


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